Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma Review

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Two ninjas, Marou and Hikage, are best friends. However, one day, in the wake of war, Marou suddenly turns on him and his ninja clan, injuring Hikage with a shuriken in the process. Hikage sets out to find him, but soon finds out that he is the leader of newly respawning Yoma who have been awakened and empowered by the blood, death and hatred of war. They call him Kikuga no Miko, and he plans to destroy the world with his army of yoma. Hikage is the only one with a chance to save him or kill him.

Breakdown: This is a pretty ‘meh’ feature for the bulk of the first half. Two ninja are best friends from childhood. Aat least I assume as much. Quite literally the only evidence towards this is constant clips of them running through a field of flowers as children. One of them betrays the other and their ninja clan with only the other best friend able to stop him. Really a cliché plot point, even in the 80’s, but the show does a pretty good job of keeping you interested and entertained throughout it all.

Hikage’s a bit of a bore. Another common trope of ninja shows are main characters who are stoic and silent. While this can be fine and badass, Hikage gives off a more ‘not talking because I’m rude’ and ‘I’m very boring’ vibe. He’s not an awful main character as we can see that he does truly care about the people who get close to him, but for most of the OVA he’s pretty boring. His English dub voice actor doesn’t help at all. He sounds so bored most of the time.

Marou’s also a bit of a problem. Like I stated, we get no real insight into his and Hikage’s friendship outside of a constant scene of them running through a field of flowers as children. While they do a fairly good job at making us more emotionally connected to this character towards the very end, you feel no real emotion about his and Hikage’s situation for most of the show because we don’t know Marou outside of him being evil. The first scene in the series is him attacking Hikage and leaving the village.

Inuyasha did the same thing. Remember, the very first scene in Inuyasha is of him wreaking havoc in the village, stealing, possibly killing people, pretty sure he maimed Kaede and basically painting the picture that he was a bad guy and Kikyo was the hero. Despite starting off rocky, through character development and backstory, we learned why he did this and that he is actually a good guy at heart. This series either didn’t have the necessary amount of caring to bother showing such background or development. He’s evil but we’re supposed to care about him because Hikage basically tells us to.

As another means to get us emotionally connected to his character, we have a bit of a plot twist near the end of the movie. Her name is Kotone and she was Marou’s wife before she was slain by Marou. She wanders the earth as a spirit after her death and meets another character named Aya. We can emotionally connect with Kotone because her story is quite sad, but she does come right out of nowhere. She also serves as a bit of a weird plot device at the end of the series that I won’t spoil but it doesn’t make much sense to me.

Aya is actually two different characters over the course of the series. She’s a woman that Hikage meets in the first episode. She takes him to a village made up of travelers who live their lives getting drunk, partying and pretty much just ignoring the harshness of the world around them.

It’s later revealed that she, along with everyone else in the village, had horrible pasts that made them want to commit suicide. A yoma created a village where travelers like her who have lost the will to live get to live relatively peacefully until the yoma decides to eat some of them. I would suppose the other villagers don’t question this either because of the spell by the yoma or because they’re all travelers and thus don’t find it odd when someone suddenly disappears. Hikage develops a bit of a thing for her, but she’s not the character who meets Kotone.

Aya #2 is a konoichi from a ninja village that Hikage meets in his travels. She’s being chased by ninjas from her village claiming that she killed their master. She denies this, but we never find out the story behind this nor whether or not she actually did it. I’d say ‘no’ considering her demeanor and the fact that she doesn’t seem all that skillful as a ninja to kill a master of all people, but we never learn for sure.

Aya’s….okay. While she has an interesting weapon (razor sharp wires that she can shoot from her hands) she doesn’t get to do a lot with it. She accidentally blinds one of her comrades and manages to hit a demon horse, but her attack actually ends up backfiring on her.

She’s not….annoying, per se. She does fall in love with Hikage faster than a Disney princess, but I do give her props for being practically the only one with a voice actress who seems to actually give a crap. She does get slightly annoying when captured, though, and seems to suffer from the same speech impediment as Miaka, Kagome, Tamahome and Inuyasha. She constantly yells Hikage’s name and can’t seem to save herself for the, no pun intended, life of her. Damn shame too, since she’s the only female fighter in the entire OVA.

There is plenty to like about this OVA, though. The atmosphere is fairly creepy, and there are some moments that are legitimately frightening. The yoma, while having a very common theme of bugs such as spiders (okay, arachnids) and moths along with snakes as the enemies were pretty good in design and fairly intimidating. Oh and did I mention there’s a werewolf-centaur in this movie? That’s either incredibly awesome or Mad Libs yoma edition.

While you really only watch this for creepy scenes and fairly cool fights for a bulk of the OVA, the relationships are usually fairly sincere. I just wish we had gotten a bit more development for them to feel more emotionally connected.

Art: The art and animation are pretty dated. It was never distractedly bad, but it definitely showed its age. While many of the visuals were creepy and the character designs were okay, it still seemed quite rough and not quite fluid.

Also, it kinda bothers me that Hikage wasn’t injured more than he was. He wears an eyepatch for the bulk of part 1 and we see that he didn’t even lose his eye – he just got a small cut under his eye from Marou’s shuriken. Wouldn’t bother me as much if the scar were actually noticeable. For a good chunk of part 2 I kept forgetting that he had that scar.

Music: Ehhhhhh. While not being particularly bad either, the music is also dated. And when I say that, I don’t mean it’s old traditional Japanese music to fit the era, I mean it’s really energetic synthesizer music. Sometimes the music does get distracting, but, for the most part, the score is okay.

Bottomline: It’s a short, fairly decent watch for any fans of the genre. I see that people are actually quite mixed in their opinion of this show. Some say it’s awful, others say it’s okay and some say it’s awesome. I guess it’s not a taste for everyone, but you be the judge.

Additional Information and Notes: Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma was produced by JC Staff and Toho.

It was directed by Takashi Anno, and it was based off of a manga written and illustrated by Kei Kusunoki.

It is/was under an English dub license by ADV Films.

Runtime: 80 minutes

Year: 1989

Recommended Audience: LOTS of blood, gore, guts and dead bodies. A couple of scenes are pretty damn gross in their graphic nature, and there’s never a shortage of blood flying around in battle. In terms of sex, there is none, no nudity either (well, there’s a naked baby at the end if that’s really offensive to you) some swearing peppered throughout, Aya #2 has a swearing streak for a bit. 16+

Episode One-Derland (Cartoon Edition) Angel’s Friends

Plot: Raf is an aspiring guardian angel working at the organization for both angels and guardian devils called VETO. Both angels and devils are assigned to a human during one of many moments in a human’s life when they have a choice between good and evil (Or, to be honest, good and slightly bad.) During this time, angels and devils take turns trying to lure the human to the side of good or evil without directly interfering with their lives or the specific turns of one or the other. Raf’s been assigned to a boy named Andrew with his guardian devil being the cunning Sulfus.

Breakdown: This is an Italian cartoon heavily inspired by magical girl anime. It stars a girl named Raf, though several other angels will come to join her later. Raf is a guardian angel in training who has recently started her work at VETO. Neither angels nor devils can be seen by humans unless they transform first, which is where the magical girl influence really comes into play because they really love the transformation sequences. Angels and devils cannot influence a human at the same time. They must take turns. To determine who goes first, the angel and devil go through a challenge in a room that can create any challenge that they come up with. Whoever is selected as second is left to wait to see if the first person fails to have their chance to swoop in and try their hand. They may not interfere in the situation while it is the first person’s turn.

This episode did a pretty good job of establishing our main character, the world they live in, how their jobs work, the antagonist and even teased a big baddy along with a looming omen which is the star mark left on the hands of Raf and Sulfus when they touched hands during the challenge as angels and devils are not allowed to make contact.

Raf herself is a very likable character. She’s responsible, she’s very optimistic, works hard and wants desperately to help the people she’s assigned to. However, it’s also shown that she’s a bit naïve, overly nice to a fault and has difficulty with the not-interfering part of her job.

Sulfus is very much a typical bully so far, though. He mostly just picks on Raf and tricks her while doing his job with a smug smile on his face. I have a feeling he’ll get more interesting as time goes on, but we’ll see.

Art and Animation: ….Ech. The art is passable but really rough. The line art just gets so sloppy sometimes. The colors are bright and eye-catching, though. The animation is horrid, however. It’s a very cheap Flash animation effect that looks like the animation for Sixteen only a lot sloppier. On that note, the lip-syncing is some of the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t know exactly who dubbed this as the only information I found on the English version is that it’s owned by NBC, but the lips hardly ever matched the words in the least, and sometimes they were talking without the lips even moving!

Voices: So far so good. I see a few 4Kids alum on here like Lisa Ortiz and Dan Green. Despite never ever ever matching the lips, the voices are pretty decent.

Music: As poppy and girly as you’d imagine. From all I’ve seen, people are not fans of the songs and I don’t blame them. While I’ve heard a lot worse, the OP goes on for too long and they’re just generic girly pop songs.

Bottomline: I am a sucker for magical girl shows, I will admit. Plus this series has a really interesting and solid premise. It’s a bit kiddy, really seeming aimed at young children, but that’s okay. If they can keep the story interesting, then it’s worth sitting through the ech-tastic visuals. A nice surprise.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!

The Bride of Deimos Review

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Based on a manga of the same name, The Bride of Deimos is a one-shot OVA chronicling one story of the manga – the story of a brother and sister who grow beautiful and rare orchids out in the middle of nowhere. However, anyone who visits their house seems to vanish suspiciously. What is the secret of this orchid house?

Breakdown: This rating is meant for people who view this as a standalone OVA, which, if you haven’t read the manga, you will. This OVA feels like it’s one episode out of the middle of a longer show. Since it’s portraying one story from a semi-long manga, that makes sense. Because of this, however, you’re left feeling very confused.

The basic idea is that a woman named Minako has been chosen by the demon, Deimos, to be the new vessel for his dying lover. However, she has to agree to the process before the transfer can start, and she refuses to do so. This really doesn’t have any bearing on the story at hand, though.

The actual story is that her friend, Hisamatsu, is a bit of a flower enthusiast who brings her to a flower competition. He points out that it’s pointless to enter in these competitions because a woman simply named Tohko always wins and never shows up. In this particular contest, she has presented a Blue Lady Orchid, said to be nearly impossible to grow.

Enamored by her work, Hisamatsu goes off to speak with Tohko and is never heard from again. Minako goes off to Tohko’s house to investigate. Despite Tohko’s brother’s insistence that no one has been to the house in years, Minako spots Hisamatsu’s notebook on the ground and decides to get a police escort and come back later.

The rest of the episode unravels the mystery around Tohko and her brother, Kaname, as well as what happened to Hisamatsu.

I would say this is a mystery as a whole, but it’s really not. We know the instant we see Tohko and Kaname that they must’ve done something with Hisamatsu, most likely killed him. The only question is why and what’s the story behind these two? That is plenty to hold one episode out of a full fledged series, and even a short OVA, but the fact that it draws attention to the fact that there’s a main plot of which this story has nothing to do with makes it feel unsatisfying in the end.

Art and Animation: The art is reminiscent of Vampire Hunter D without so much pointyness. It’s okay, and the animation is fair.

Music: The music is dated, but okay.

Voice Acting: Japanese – Very good, but sometimes a little boring in their performances.

Bottomline: I will admit that the story is creepy and very interesting, though there are some confusing aspects and plot holes, but the problem is that it feels like an episode you’d find in the middle of an anime. It gives off an episodic show feeling, doesn’t resolve anything in the main plot, introduces characters and plotlines like you’re already meant to know them and just seems unsatisfactory. I know this was probably meant as a promotional OVA for the manga or something, but why not start at the beginning instead of slapping us in the middle?

If you have intent to read the manga or already have, then this might be a good and short watch for you. However, if you don’t intend on reading the manga, prepare to be unsatisfied in regards to the main plot.

Additional Information and Notes: The Bride of Deimos was based on a manga written by Etsuko Ikeda and illustrated by Yuko Ashibe.

The OVA was animated by Madhouse and directed by Rintaro, who also directed Galaxy Express 999, The Dagger of Kamui, Reign: The Conqueror and Metropolis. There is currently no English dub available.

Runtime: 30 Minutes

Year: 1988

Recommended Audience: No nudity, no sex, no real gore, but several people are Robin Hooded to death. Scary imagery?…….10+

30DAC – Day 10: Favorite Fighter Anime

I’m taking the meaning of this prompt as like brawl fighting, tournaments a theme etc. I was torn between two shows for this. Yu Yu Hakusho and Dragonball.

While I do truly love Dragonball, I can’t deny that Yu Yu Hakusho just has slightly more to offer in terms of interesting characters and cool powers. I didn’t include DBZ in this because, while I do like that show too, it gets monotonous after time, and the battles are drawn out too much.

Yu Yu Hakusho centers around a boy named Yusuke Urameshi who died while trying to save a kid from getting hit by a car. He’s brought back to life by a shinigami named Botan and Koenma, ruler of the spirit world, though technically a prince, under the condition that he become a spirit detective, a person with immense spiritual powers who solves cases for the spirit world typically involving demons.

He is quickly joined by his best friend/rival Kuwabara, who had heightened spirit awareness far before Yusuke, Hiei, a fire apparition and Kurama, a reincarnated fox demon.

While the animation isn’t fantastic, the fights are incredible and many of them are very memorable. My personal favorite is the Dark Tournament arc because not only do we showcase the main group’s powers, but we also get introduced to all sorts of different demons and abilities that constantly change up the battle. There’s a couple other tournament arcs, but I find the Dark Tournament more diverse and interesting.

Plus, it introduced us to Jin and he’s just awesome.

The characters are really memorable, even if Hiei really gives off a Vegeta vibe, only without the rivalry with the main character, and the storylines, while not being insanely original, are also memorable and well-written.

It’s just an overall great fighting anime that I’d be glad to recommend to anyone.